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  • 21 Jun 2023 11:18 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Gov. JB Pritzker signed the annual Medicaid omnibus into law last week, which will boost rates for a variety of healthcare providers. [Health News Illinois]

    The plan includes a 30 percent increase for substance use disorder treatment, 12 percent for nursing home support, a 10 percent increase for hospitals and an additional $50 million annually to support increases for federally qualified health centers.

    Most rate increases will be implemented next January. 

    The proposal also gives the Department of Healthcare and Family Services the ability to address the cost of a program that provides Medicaid-like coverage to certain undocumented individuals.

    The agency released emergency rulemaking later Friday afternoon, which includes halting enrollment in the program as well as implementing copays for some hospital services.

    Other provisions in the law include:

    ·    Setting aside funding for specified services provided by community mental health centers, such as mobile crisis response and crisis intervention. Rate increases will be determined “with significant input from Illinois behavioral health trade associations and advocates.”

    ·    Providing $3.5 million for the Department of Public Health to support critical access hospitals in Illinois, specifically for perinatal and behavioral healthcare services.

    ·    Establishing reimbursement for telehealth for developmentally disabled individuals.

    ·    Granting the Departments of Human Services and Healthcare and Family Services emergency rulemaking to address substance use disorder residential and detox rate equity.

    ·    Laying the groundwork, procedures and limitations for pharmacy audits.


  • 20 Jun 2023 11:04 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Department of Healthcare and Family Services released proposed rules last week intended to address the rising costs of a program that provides Medicaid-like coverage for certain undocumented individuals. [Health News Illinois]

    That includes a pause for new enrollees between 42 and 64 on July 1. Seniors can still join, unless their enrollment reaches 16,500. The department said it will reopen enrollment “as soon as fiscally possible.”

    Additionally, the department may implement copays for hospital services not eligible for a federal match, such as $250 for inpatient hospitalizations and $100 for emergency room visits.

    The program offers coverage to undocumented immigrants 42 years and older who do not qualify for other medical assistance and have an income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

    Officials have estimated the program will cost the state $1.1 billion without restrictions. Advocates of the program have pushed back on those figures.

    The agency said it has already taken steps to enhance revenue for the program, including maximizing “federal reimbursement for emergency medical expenses” and pursuing supplemental prescription drug rebates for the covered undocumented population.

    It will also transition enrollees to Medicaid managed care next year, which HFS said will generate additional funds through taxes it collects on managed care organizations.

    The Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus said in a statement that the proposal “is disappointing but is also a call to action.”

    “We will continue to fight for healthcare for all Illinoisans,” they said. “Latino Caucus members have not given up — and will pursue closing the gap in coverage until we achieve healthcare for all residents. The often-disenfranchised communities we represent sent us to Springfield to be their voice; we will never turn our backs on them.”

    The Healthy Illinois Campaign condemned the agency’s proposal, calling on the Pritzker administration to work with lawmakers and advocates to ensure healthcare access.

    “By slashing live-saving health coverage for Illinois immigrants, Gov. Pritzker is turning his back on the communities he claims Illinois welcomes and aligning himself with anti-immigrant Republicans around the country,” they said in a statement.


  • 16 Jun 2023 10:15 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in the summer of 2022, almost half of states have banned abortion or placed gestational limits on the procedure. These restrictions disproportionately impact individuals who live in the South and Midwest—and much has been written about the dire consequences for women who face reproductive emergencies and physicians who face potential prosecution (or license forfeiture) for exercising their professional judgment in providing care. The consequences for training in lifesaving procedures is another area of great and growing concern.

    There is another consequence to restricting abortion that many policy makers may not have considered: banning abortion is likely to deter physicians from practicing in those states altogether.


  • 15 Jun 2023 4:00 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Gov. JB Pritzker joined stakeholders Wednesday to launch the next step in an initiative aimed at addressing homelessness in the state.

    Officials said the summit aimed to bring potential solutions and strategies to the state’s multi-year approach to expand affordable housing options; assist individuals in high-risk situations, specifically those who need medical care; and provide additional support for those experiencing homelessness. [Health News Illinois]

    “The summit is an opportunity to come together and hear from the lived experiences of those who have experienced homelessness," Deputy Gov. Sol Flores said in a statement. "That perspective and the equity it centers is invaluable in this work."

    Additionally, Pritzker’s office said the initiative aims to support the safety net and address the mortality gap through a racial equity lens.

    “This is a first-of-its-kind, multi-agency endeavor — bringing together state agencies, nonprofit organizations, advocates and people with lived experience to take an intergovernmental approach to preventing and ending homelessness,” Pritzker said in a statement.

     The governor’s office noted the recently approved state budget allocates nearly $360 million for the effort, including $118 million to support unhoused populations seeking shelter and services and $35 million for services like medical respite.


  • 14 Jun 2023 6:19 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Black Chicagoans continue to face significant health disparities, including a 10-year life expectancy gap compared to white residents, according to a recent report  from the Chicago Urban League. [Health News Illinois]

    The report, which was prepared by both the league and the Institute for Racial Justice at Loyola University Chicago, also found 45 percent of residents of the city’s 27 predominately Black neighborhoods have low food accessibility, compared to 27 percent of residents living in the 11 predominately white neighborhoods.

    Hypertension and obesity are twice as high in Black neighborhoods compared to others. Lead poisoning in children ages five and under was nearly seven times more likely in Black neighborhoods than white ones.

    The data represents the continued impact of social determinants of health on Black Chicagoans.

    “In assessing the health of Black Chicagoans, it must be understood that the lack of health is a consequence of historical systems of oppression that created significant barriers to healthcare,” the report says. “There are numerous social, economic and environmental determinants of health, including access to education, fresh and healthy food, economic stability, safe homes and neighborhoods as well as a responsive healthcare system.”

     About 29 percent of Chicagoans are Black, down 3 percent over the past decade.

    Download report here.


  • 13 Jun 2023 5:22 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    CMS Announces Multi-State Initiative to Strengthen Primary Care

    New Model Aims to Enhance Access and Quality of Primary Care, Improve Health System

    Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new primary care model – the Making Care Primary (MCP) Model – that will be tested under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in eight states. Access to high-quality primary care is associated with better health outcomes and equity for people and communities. MCP is an important step in strengthening the primary care infrastructure in the country, especially for safety net and smaller or independent primary care organizations. The model seeks to improve care for patients by expanding and enhancing care management and care coordination, equipping primary care clinicians with tools to form partnerships with health care specialists, and leveraging community-based connections to address patients’ health needs as well as their health-related social needs.

    More> https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-announces-multi-state-initiative-strengthen-primary-care


  • 12 Jun 2023 5:22 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Gov. JB Pritzker took action Friday on dozens of proposals, including a bill to better track information on disability insurance plans. [Health News Illinois]

    The new law tasks the Department of Insurance with collecting data on the plans, including information on limitations on mental health and substance use disorder benefits. The agency must present its findings to the General Assembly by next April.

    Another signed bill  allows podiatrists to administer influenza, tetanus and COVID-19 vaccines to adult patients.

    And another new law requires insurers and dental plans to allow providers to opt out of being included in leased networks. The law also adds protections for dental providers around contracting.

    Other bills signed into law Friday will:

    ·    Require specific music venues to have opioid antagonists available, and to have staff that are properly trained to administer them during hours of operation.

    ·    Require insurance to cover an annual prostate screening, cervical smear or Pap smear test.

    ·    Increase the maximum loan repayment grant amounts for different workers in the behavioral healthcare field.

    ·    Require hospitals to adopt an immunization policy that includes procedures for identifying patients 50 and older for a flu vaccine and 65 or older for a pneumonia vaccine.

    ·    Allow advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe a 120-day supply of benzodiazepines without a consultation relationship with a physician.

    ·    Allow physician assistants who practice at federally qualified health centers to not have collaborative agreements.

    ·    Include paramedics and emergency medical technicians in the definition of a firefighter for the purposes of continued insurance coverage.

    ·    Prohibit insurance plans from denying or delaying coverage for medically necessary treatment because a patient received treatment for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections or pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric.

    ·    Require public guardians to complete a one-hour course on Alzheimer's disease and dementia within six months of appointment and annually thereafter.

    ·    Allow pharmacy technicians to qualify as having completed certain education and training requirements if they have 500 hours of equivalent work experience.


  • 9 Jun 2023 11:25 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Although social media use by children carries benefits such as increasing connectedness and providing a forum for self-expression, a new advisory from US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, warns of potential downsides. [JAMA Network]

    Factors such as excessive or compulsive social media use and exposure to violent or sexual content are linked with outcomes including poor sleep quality, anxiety and depression, and body dissatisfaction. “We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis,” Murthy, who published an advisory calling attention to children’s mental health in December 2021, said in a statement.

    The advisory suggests actions that institutions and individuals can take to create healthful social media environments. Policy makers, for example, can enforce age minimums for platforms and back digital and media literacy lessons in schools. Technology companies can develop and evaluate platforms and algorithms with a focus on minimizing risks for children, and families can set aside time to create a family media plan.

    Download 27-page report here. 


  • 8 Jun 2023 4:59 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Billions of new healthcare funding will be included in the roughly $50.4 billion spending plan signed into law Wednesday by Gov. JB Pritzker. [Health News Illinois]

    That includes a $240 million increase to implement a $2.50 an hour wage increase for workers who serve Illinoisans with developmental disabilities.

    Other provisions in the plan include $550 million to fund a program that provides Medicaid-like coverage to certain undocumented individuals. The proposal does not expand eligibility for the program, a step advocates had sought this spring.

    The Medicaid omnibus approved by lawmakers last month gives the Department of Healthcare and Family Services emergency rulemaking to implement provisions intended to reign in the costs of the program, which is estimated to hit $1.1 billion in the coming year.

    The budget also allocates:

    ·    $42.5 million for grants to counties and cities for their costs associated with asylum seekers.

    ·    $53.5 million to overhaul the Department of Public Health’s disease monitoring systems in preparation for future public health emergencies.

    ·    $38 million for 23 safety-net hospitals that serve low-income communities.

    ·    $25 million of continued funding for a program that trains new nurses, medical assistants, medical laboratory technicians, emergency medical technicians and other high-demand positions.

    ·    $24 million for a rate increase for home workers who assist the elderly, increased outreach to the elderly, and an increase for Adult Day Services.

    ·    $22.8 million to begin implementing the state’s Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative.

    ·    $18 million to establish a reproductive health navigation hotline, training and consultation programs.

    ·    $10 million to begin preparation for a state-based health insurance marketplace.

    ·    $3 million for IDPH to implement healthcare workforce repayment and scholarship programs.

    Other provisions include creating a council to advise HFS on how to support veteran suicide prevention and giving the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention the ability to award violence prevention organizations grants for services related to behavioral health, including clinical interventions, crisis interventions and group counseling supports.

    “With this budget, we're building a stronger economy and putting our state back on sound fiscal footing, while also making smart investments in priorities like education, healthcare and local communities,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside.

    The Illinois Health and Hospital Association thanked lawmakers for approving the final package, saying with the “critical financial contribution, Illinois hospitals can remain strong, viable and committed to providing safe, quality healthcare for all.”


  • 7 Jun 2023 5:28 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    There is no way around this: More patients need organ transplants than there are organs available to transplant. It is cold, hard arithmetic. No amount of negotiating with an insurance company or engaging in prior authorization can change that. [Medscape]

    As a kidney doctor, this issue is close to my heart. There are around 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list in the US, with 3000 new patients being added per month. There are only 25,000 kidney transplants per year. And each year, around 5000 people die while waiting for a transplant.



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